Are South African Ex-Apartheid Mercenaries Fighting In Nigeria?

Are South African Ex-Apartheid Mercenaries Fighting In Nigeria?

Last week reports emerged that Nigeria had employed the services of South Africa’s ex-apartheid soldiers, known as Koevoets, as mercenaries to fight the war against Boko Haram militants, who have now allied themselves with ISIL.

The mercenaries claim came after a white South African military ‘advisor’ was killed in battle with the Islamist militants.

Nigeria has however denied that they have hired any mercenaries to fight Boko Haram. The country postponed its presidential election slated for Feb. 14 to March 28 on concerns that the militant group would attack voters during the ballot day.

According to Quartz, the tag Koevoet was an Apartheid paramilitary organization established at the height of the South African Border War in 1979 who after the end of Apartheid, evolved into ex-SADF men established “private military companies.”

“I will not call them ex-soldiers; they are mercenaries,” South Africa Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said. “When they returned from Nigeria, they would be arrested and charged under South Africa’s Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act.”

Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan, who is also contesting in the March 28 Election, told Voice of America that the South Africans were simply providing “technical support” for newly acquired weaponry and other military equipment.

“So we now have these technical people who are trainers and technicians, who are to train our people on how to use them, and technicians that help the maintenance, at the same time training our people how to maintain this equipment,” Jonathan said.

Apart from the South African’s, Jonathan said, there were also soldiers from Eastern Europe who are engaged in the facilitating the fight against Boko Haram.